WabiSabiLabi CTO Roberto Preatoni has made his first comments since being arrested in sensational fashion five months ago by Italian authorities to face allegations of spying.
In a new blog, the co-founder and techie-in-chief of the controversial exploit marketplace, declares his intention to stay onboard the company after pressure to make a decision about his involvement.
“The questions I kept asking myself in the last months were: What will happen to WSL [WabiSabiLabi] if I will stay? Will my private life and troubles effect negatively the project? Should I keep representing publicly the project? Several people, including security researchers mailed me addressing the same questions (thanks, Jesper) forcing me finally to take a decision,” he says.
After what must have been a tortuous experience, Preatoni even manages some humour. “At least, next time I'll meet Kevin Mitnick [a convicted but reformed computer criminal] at TJI Friday's I'll have something to say and not only to ask,” he quips.
Based just over the Swiss border from Italy, WabiSabiLabi was founded in July 2007 as a vulnerability marketplace, though some branded it rather unfairly as being an ‘eBay for hackers’. There’s no doubting that its business model is contentious, however – registered buyers get to bid on unpatched software flaws.
It is not known how much business the company has generated, but it is still very much in operation, even with its CTO having been caught up in the complicated investigations over alleged spying at telecom Italia, charges that related to a period before Preatoni joined the company.
“The case for which I was arrested, it's actually a huge case and believe me, no single news agency was able to picture it completely right. Probably, nobody will ever be able to picture it completely right as it's a case involving a hundred of arrested people, the Italian Secret Services, the US Secret Services, some Italian corrupted police and financial police officers, some Italian and US investigation companies, a multi-billionaire struggle between Telecom Italia and Brasil Telecom, an extraordinary rendition (kidnapping) of a presumed Islamic terrorist, and last but not least, the suicide (but many say murder) of a Telecom Italia Security top manager,” says Preatoni, neatly summing up in a single paragraph why many outsiders despair of ever fully understanding Italian public affairs.
Preatoni reveals that he plans to represent WabiSabiLabi at a security event in South Africa next month. “I will stay and continue to put pressure to security lobbies. Things must change, researchers and their discoveries should be considered beneficial to the whole security cycle.”